U.S. airlines are pressing the Biden administration to lift a 16-month-old rule requiring virtually all international air passengers for certain special cases for test negative for COVID-19 preceding entering the country. Airline executives say numerous Americans are not traveling internationally a direct result of worries they will test positive in a foreign nation and afterward be stranded abroad. International U.S. air travel stays down around 15% from pre-pandemic levels.
Crain’s Chicago Business reported Thursday that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he did not think pre-departure rules “will be there forever” but added lifting them would require the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to be confident “relaxing it would not harm the progress that we’ve made against the virus.”
Airlines for America, an industry group, said Friday a survey of its carriers estimated that dropping testing rules would bring in an additional 4.3 million international passengers and $1.7 billion in incremental revenue – and could result in an incremental 1.075 million foreign visitors and $2.1 billion in visitor spending.
CDC declined to comment.
Shapps said dropping requirements have boosted the British economy and not impacted COVID-19 cases.
Britain’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Reuters and other reporters in Washington on Thursday he discussed the issue with Buttigieg and some U.S. lawmakers.
“It works to get rid of it. It’s been a massive boost for our tourism, travel industry,” Shapps said.
He thinks the United States is moving toward lifting the rules, but U.S. officials offered no firm indications.
“My sense is that it’s moving towards endgame. I think they realize that it needs to go,” Shapps said. “My sense is that by the summer.” The United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and many other countries have eliminated pre-departure testing requirements for vaccinated travelers.
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